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English teacher

Dallas, TX

52
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 8 reviews
  • 8 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 24 purchased in 2014
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38

  • Divergent

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Veronica Roth
    • Narrated By Emma Galvin
    Overall
    (17313)
    Performance
    (15664)
    Story
    (15788)

    In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue - Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is - she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

    Grant says: "It's not for me. Loved it anyway."
    "Need a Hunger Games fix?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about Divergent?

    I'm a middle school teacher, and I chose this book because I had seen some of my students reading it. Soon I was gripped by all that Tris and her friends were going through, guessing some plot turns, surprised by others, but so involved that I had scarcely finished Divergent before I had to purchase the sequel (Insurgent). Like Hunger Games, it has a female protagonist who must prove herself as a fighter, who is wracked with strong emotions, who must cope with the changes that come because of love, and who is in the middle of a world ripe for revolution.

    I found Tris to be likeable, complex, and believable, and the situation her society is in more interesting than the one in Katniss' world because the evil is more insidious. It is easy to see why the enemy leader believes in a particular cause and why the various forces choose as they do.

    Sometimes, I grew a little weary of the problems that could have been easily solved if people had not kept secrets from one another, but the world Tris grew up in has trained her to accept the idea of dangerous secrets. I also found the way the different elements of society were leveraging power to be a compelling plot element.


    What other book might you compare Divergent to and why?

    I think anyone who liked Hunger Games should be all over this series as their next fix. However, I actually l liked this better than Hunger Games in many ways. There are more interesting characters, and the various elements of society are less black and white in their motivations and alliances. The puzzles Tris must solve is complex and so are her strategies for solving them.

    Although there is violence and some of it is very cruel, I found it less disturbing than some of the Hunger Games violence, which was often sadistic and bizarre.


    What about Emma Galvin’s performance did you like?

    I found her completely believable and engaging. Tris being a relatively small girl, she needed a voice with some child-like elements, but Galvin was also believable as Tris developed into a leader.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I did not want to stop listening! The minute it was over, I bought the sequel.


    35 of 39 people found this review helpful
  • Reached: Matched, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Ally Condie
    • Narrated By Jack Riccobono
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (733)
    Performance
    (659)
    Story
    (662)

    After leaving Society and desperately searching for the Rising Cassia and Ky have found what they were looking for, but at the cost of losing each other yet again: Cassia has been assigned to work for the Rising from within Society, while Ky has been stationed outside its borders. In this gripping conclusion to the Matched Trilogy, Cassia will reconcile the difficulties of challenging a life too confining, seeking a freedom she never dreamed possible, and honoring a love she cannot live without.

    Anastasia says: "Disappointed ..most likely will return this book"
    "A satisfying conclusion"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Having heard the first two, I was looking forward to this one. I found it a satisfying conclusion to what had been set in motion by Matched and Crossed, but since it was primarily tying up threads rather than starting new ones, it was a little bit less exciting than previous books. The main characters' stories are nicely capped off-- though some of the details of the political situation and the history of the Society are glossed over a bit through a long view of history that neglects to give, to my mind, a full picture of inciting causes. Still, I would recommend it as a solid teen adventure romance.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The False Prince

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Jennifer A. Nielsen
    • Narrated By Charlie McWade
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (264)
    Performance
    (241)
    Story
    (238)

    In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king's long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Three orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner's motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword's point he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage's rivals have their own agendas as well.

    English teacher says: "Best read of the summer!"
    "Best read of the summer!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I teach middle school, and I use summers to catch up on what's hot in adolescent fiction. I spent a lot of time this summer with books in the "Hunger Games" vein, but this one was a welcome change of pace. This is my favorite kind of book--driven by fascinating characters with complex motives. It also has a well-crafted plot and intriguing politics that left me hungry for the sequel. It reminds me in all the best ways of Megan Whalen Turner's "Thief" series, but is not derivative of that. It involves a "Prince and Pauper" scheme to usurp the throne of a completely believable fictional kingdom, but layers of secrets and plot twists keep the story consistently engaging. The main character has a compelling mixture of strengths and weaknesses, and the more the reader knows, the more he/she can identify with him.

    The reading was fabulous--perfect for the characters. I listened on a long drive and was completely lost in the book.

    The False Prince will be among my top recommendations to my students, but it was certainly no chore to read it. I hope there's another Nielsen/McWade treasure out by next summer!

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Will Grayson, Will Grayson

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By John Green, David Levithan
    • Narrated By MacLeod Andrews, Nick Podehl
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1103)
    Performance
    (888)
    Story
    (897)

    One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two teens—both named Will Grayson—are about to cross paths. As their worlds collide and intertwine, the Will Graysons find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, building toward romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most fabulous high school musical.

    FanB14 says: "Another John Green Hit"
    "Loved it, loved it!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a charming, engaging, and "real" story. I say real instead of realistic because some of the plot is quite improbable, but the characters are utterly convincing and lovable. Although the story is teen-centric, I appreciated that the minor characters of parents are portrayed as caring and understanding human beings and not as stereotypes or buffoons. Even the flamboyant Tiny Cooper, who is figuratively and literally larger than life, has a complex persona. The device which drives the story (and which forces the plot into its contortions) is that there are two very different Will Graysons, each written by a different author and voiced by a different reader, whose lives intersect at a time of mutual identity crisis. If I had to attribute my enjoyment of the story to one factor, it would be the respect with which the authors treat their characters and their very real teen struggles--with depression, loneliness, fame, purpose, and all kinds of love. A warning to the squeamish--the language can be quite candid and streetwise sometimes, but this is part of the verisimilitude.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Dale E. Basye
    • Narrated By Bronson Pinchot
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (35)
    Performance
    (25)
    Story
    (26)

    When Milton and Marlo Fauster die in a marshmallow-bear explosion, they get sent straight to Heck, an otherworldly reform school. Milton can understand why his kleptomaniac sister is here, but Milton is—or was—a model citizen. Has a mistake been made? Not according to Bea “Elsa” Bubb, the Principal of Darkness....

    English teacher says: "A well-read, imaginative diversion"
    "A well-read, imaginative diversion"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The reader makes all the difference sometimes, and Bronson Pinchot is masterful at creating distinct voices. It was sometimes hard to believe that only one person was reading! The story is a bit light and corny for my taste, but it was original. Marlo and Milton are sent to Heck, which is a kind of limbo exclusively for children, populated by a corrupt bureaucracy of flawed demons administering offbeat punishments such as locking away the phonics lessons from the kids who are "hooked" on them and forcing boys to wear humiliating clothing such as lederhosen. I would imagine this story appealing most to a fanciful ten year-old, but I stuck with it because I was so entertained by the excellent reading.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Insurgent: Divergent, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Veronica Roth
    • Narrated By Emma Galvin
    Overall
    (11297)
    Performance
    (10228)
    Story
    (10315)

    One choice can transform you - or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves - and herself - while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

    Lore says: "Decent but not as interesting as Divergent"
    "Eagerly awaiting the sequel!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I bought this book within minutes of completing Divergent, and was engrossed in the story, which I find more complex and interesting than the similarly-themed Hunger Games. The protagonist, Tris, like Katniss, is trying to understand herself in the context of a revolution, blossoming love, and personal loss. Having been raised in a sub-community of selfless people, her deeply rooted compassion softens her otherwise tough and daring persona, and I find her a completely believable and engaging narrator. I'm sure some of this is owing to the excellent reading by Emma Galvin. In this part of the story, readers get many answers to teasers and mysteries suggested since the first book and developed to a greater level of complexity in this book, but the new questions will whet their appetites for what's coming next. This is really impressive storytelling by a new young author, and her fully-imagined social hierarchy is thought-provoking.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • A Slight Trick of the Mind

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Mitch Cullin
    • Narrated By Simon Jones
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (228)
    Performance
    (55)
    Story
    (56)

    He's 93-years-old, in retirement in Sussex, beginning to lose his memory, and subject to emotions he has resisted all his life. His name is Sherlock Holmes.

    Jennifer says: "Worth more than five stars!"
    "As clever as the Great Detective himself!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    First of all, Simon Jones is a superior reader, but this book is such a skillful interweaving of storylines and such a poignant examination of the role of memory and emotional pain in making us who we are that I am unreserved in my praise. I am wary of books that use an established literary character as protagonist, often finding the technique gimmicky and derivative, but this book adds dimension and life to Doyle's detective, making him new and complex in a very satisfying and believable way. Using bees to unite the three main stories is masterful and truly beautiful. I enjoyed this book immensely and would love to see it done well as a movie.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Mirrorscape

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Mike Wilks
    • Narrated By Paul English
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    Melkin Womper is thrilled to escape his dull future as a village weaver and develop his artis-tic talent when he's apprenticed to Ambrosius Blenk, one of Vlam's most famous masters. Mel is especially excited by the colors that he'll be able to use, since color is a very expensive Pleasure, strictly controlled by the sinister Fifth Mystery. Mel can't wait to enjoy the wonders of the grand city and begin his important work for Blenk. Instead, his dreams are quickly crushed by the reality of days filled with unimportant tasks and bullying by the other apprentices.

    Claire Wofford says: "Dragons, Monsters, & Beasts...OH MY!"
    "Concept is not enough to carry a story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    The concept behind this book is excellent--I think we can all appreciate the idea of entering a painting the way Mary Poppins entered the chalk drawing and Alice entered the mirror. We also like the idea of noble individuals fighting against a corrupt government. That said, as I listened, I found myself thinking that the writer was not an expert storyteller and that he had not spent much time with his presumed target audience (11-13). Although I finished it less than two weeks ago, I had to search my mind to remember the names of the main characters because they did not stick with me as real people but as "types" put in motion to be part of a concept-driven plot. I always prefer a character-driven story, but even if plot were the priority, I admit to feeling a little regretful that I used my monthly credit for this one. The villains were completely two-dimensional-- cruel, stupid, selfish and unprincipled--cartoon villains. The main character, Mel, came up with solutions far too easily. His humble beginnings and good heart were not sufficient to prepare him to save the day when experienced adults ran out of ideas. It was just too contrived for me, especially a lot of the dialog. Children are more sophisticated than we sometimes give them credit for. After about age seven or eight, they want more than a new take on "once upon a time." They want to read about people they can admire or despise for good reasons. No matter how interesting a concept or how complex a plot, they want to see real people, not caricatures or generic child types--where have we seen the brave boy, the talented girl, and the hapless best friend before? Hmm. And there is no Dumbledore or Lupin or McGonagal for any of them to confide in or turn to in this story. The adults move in a circle apart from the children, not offering them much in the way of love, understanding, or support-- but the children are almost entirely motivated by the desire to rescue or protect the adults in their lives. I just don't buy that.


    If you’ve listened to books by Mike Wilks before, how does this one compare?

    I had never heard of Mike Wilks before I read this, and I did look at his other works. I suspect the shorter picture books are more successful.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Paul English?

    Paul English does a good job of voicing characters and adding energy to the text.


    Was Mirrorscape worth the listening time?

    I did see it through to the end, but if I had been consulted as editor, there is much I would have left out, much I would have changed.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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